The Qur’an constitutes the primary source and all-important focus of Muslim faith and devotion. Its message forms the very foundation of Islamic communal, cultural, and devotional life. 1 The entire worldview that we call “Islamic” evolved in response to the moral, ethical, aesthetical, and doctrinal precepts contained in the Muslim revelation. They are best summed up in the concept of tawhíd , the emphatic assertion of God’s absolute unity. From this assertion, as we have seen, spring all the other demands that God has imposed on his servants. As the principal and unrivalled source of Islamic doctrine and practice (even Islam’s other major symbols, such as Mecca and the Ka‘ba, are secondary, insofar as their significance is explained and conditioned by the Qur’anic text), the Qur’an demands that its followers pay undivided attention to its messages. Once the role of the Qur’an and the conduit to God has been accepted by the believers, they have begun to use it as means of worship:
What one did with the Qur’an was not to peruse it but to worship by means of it; not to passively receive it but, in reciting it, to reaffirm it for oneself: the event of revelation was renewed every time one of the faithful, in the act or worship, relived the Qur’anic affirmations. 2
In view of its centrality to Islamic faith and practice, the Qur’an can tolerate no rivalry from either human beings or physical objects that may potentially weaken or dissipate the worshipper’s single-minded devotion to the one and only God of the Muslim scripture and to the moral and ethical imperatives that flow from it. The Qur’an’s overriding importance for the Muslims has rendered them leery of any alternative mediators between God and human beings.